Monday, March 30, 2009

Strange weather

As I am typing it is absolutely hacking it down with rain. The weather this week has been awful. We have had gale force winds blowing sand everywhere, hail, torrential rain and generally gloomy weather. At least it has kept the temperature down which is a good thing. And anyway, we Brits are pretty much used to this kind of weather for about 70% of the year! But very weird for here. Even people I have spoken to that have been here years have never known it this bad. Global warming to blame no doubt. Here's a clip of me driving down Airport Road this morning...



video

Most problems out here get solved by throwing cheap labour at them. This was evident this morning when I saw teams of municipality workers sweeping the kerbs clear of the sand that had blown into them over the last couple of days.




Exciting news today though!! Tickets for the Abu Dhabi F1 GP went on sale today. I got myself 4 tickets, hopefully with a great view from the West Grandstand. The tickets will be for myself and 2 of my bros (Steve & Mark) who are going to come out for the weekend. I'm sure a good time will be had by all! There is still lots of work to be done on Yas Island, the venue, but it will be another cheap labour situation again and it will get done!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Back with a bump!.....

I've been back from the UK over a week and this is really this first opportunity I've had to do a blog! It's just been manic since I got back. Coming back to over 400 emails and having to catch up on the activities of my missed week, plus a whole load of new stuff has proved a challenge this week. However, the backlog is now cleared and I can start to move forward again - if indeed I ever feel I am moving forward here under the mountain of stuff to do dealt with each week. Oh well, hey ho, head down and crack on I guess.

It was actually lovely going back to the UK for the first time in about 9 months. There are some British expat, UK haters over here who say "why on earth would you want to go back to the UK" or when you get back say "So I guess you saw all the reasons why you are over here?", but really I thought it was great. Aside from seeing our family and friends (which was really nice) - it was great to feel I was in a place that just felt normal. I enjoyed doing the most banal of things, like popping over the road in the freezing cold to go and get fish and chips from the chip shop, to enjoy lungs full of fresh air, to see green rolling hills and to be able to drive with other normal drivers and not fear for my life!

There are of course many things which are not so nice about the UK and yes, I do appreciate the UAE for these; benefit grabbing chavs wandering the streets midweek instead of working, dirty paths and streets and petrol prices! But, for me and Caz, it still definitely counts as home.

But, nonetheless, this is where we are for a while so best get back to making the most of it. Soon we will start our quest to find accommodation in the City, but it is still a bit soon for that. With having been away and then having the storms this week, the villa was filthy with sand, so I spent all day on Saturday cleaning and scrubbing the place, as I'm sure Caz would not have appreciated coming back to it. I was away in Dubai one night this week while the storms were blasting and one of the windows in the kitchen had blown open leaving the entire area covered in sand! Aaagghh! Still, the place looks a lot better now.

Well on with the grind. Caz will find out her shifts tomorrow, so we will see if we can do anything this weekend.....

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Off on leave....

Off back to Blighty tomorrow for a well earned rest and to see the family - will be nice. Will be back on 22nd and may not have chance to update until then. I'm sure when I get back it will be hotter, more jobs will have been lost, more laws will have been passed, more people will have been killed on the roads and I will have about 500 emails to deal with - I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Strange goings on in MbZC

As I was being a lazy arse last night and couldn't be bothered to cook, I phoned out for Pizza Hut delivery (if you didn't know you could do that this far out, ask me and I'll tell you how! - you can also get KFC!!). As I was paying the delivery man (which was around 8.15pm) I heard a massive rumble, the sort of sound you might imagine coming from a large building collapsing. The front door totally rattled as did the windows. About 10 minutes later the same thing happened again. Now I'm no expert, but I'm thinking earthquake. They are not that uncommon in the region, especially in Iran which had a few last year. I was in Dubai last December when there was one. In fact I was in the Barclay's building right next to the Burj Dubai - so I'm in the basement of a building next to the tallest building in the world and we are told there is going to be an earthquake! Fortunately, there were just minor rumblings in Dubai. Maybe it's me, because I also experienced an earthquake in Japan a few years ago - but I would trust their buildings to survive more than here! Anyway, back to Abu Dhabi. Weirdly, when you search the Internet for all the earthquake notification sites, there is no sign of one anywhere near the region. There was also nothing in the papers today. Caz put a thread on the Abu Dhabi Women's forum about it, there were about 20 other people in Abu Dhabi who also reported the exact same experience. Now, I'm not sure if some just have over active imaginations but some have suggested that the airport had reported higher than normal flight activity at the same and others report a lot of helicopters in the sky. So what could it be? Military explosions they don't want us to know about? Bomb testing (at night?). Or maybe a small localised earthquake not big enough to register..... any other thoughts???

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Peace Be Upon Him

Tomorrow the Muslim world celebrates the birthday of Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him). Whenever you refer to Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) as a Muslim, or if you are in an Islamic country it is necessary to suffix his name with "Peace Be Upon Him", although this may be abbreviated to "PBUH". Muslims follow the Islamic calendar or Hijri, which is based on the lunar cycle and started at the birth of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) (!). So in the Islamic calendar tomorrow is Rabea Al Awwal 12th, 1430 Hijri.


Today is a Public Holiday. Because a number of religious celebration dates are governed by the lunar cycle there is a "UAE Moon Sighting Committee" who's job it is to check out the moon and confirm when these dates should be. It seems like the dates are always very conveniently added to a weekend break for the public sector workers (where most Emiratis work) - call me a cynic but I'm not sure it has an awful lot to do with the moon as long as it close enough! Well whenever it is I don't really care because I get the day off too - yippee!


So, Happy Birthday Mohammed ...(PBUH)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Inspired by Kris and Bert's blog ( http://bandkschmid.blogspot.com/2009/03/signs.html ) I thought I would add my own sign which made me laugh whilst using the facilities at a customer of mine in Bahrain !










Friday, March 6, 2009

Fire in Musaffah

I was driving out to work yesterday when I saw this (as captured on my mobile phone) :-

video


It was obviously a major incident, the smoke was trailing for miles. Well it was in the newspaper today (see below). A plastics factory went up in flames. Now the worrying thing for me was a quote in the paper from an anonymous manager from the plant who said the the Civil Defense (Fire Brigade) were trying to put it out with water, when all this did was create the massive amount of smoke. What they should have used was foam. Now this isn't the first time I have heard this. I heard of an illuminated sign on an apartment that was on fire and, again, they just sprayed it with water - an electrical fire - apparently there were sparks everywhere, but they just carried on until eventually it was put out! I guess the Civil Defense are either badly trained or lacking equipment, but it is a worry. To be honest I would hate to have to rely on any of the emergency services out here. Firstly, they can never get anywhere quick enough because of the traffic and no one gets out of their way (see my previous blog http://neilandcaz.blogspot.com/2009/01/busy-day.html ). And secondly, they don't seem to know what they are doing when they get there! There seems to be a lot of reports of people dying on their way to hospital and I wonder if it's because the ambulance staff are incompetent - if it's like all other areas of the public sector out here then, probably!





Fire destroys Musa ah plastics plant
Essam Al Ghalib and Suryatapa Bhattacharya
The National - News
06 Mar 2009

MUSAFFAH Fire destroyed a plastics factory in Musaffah yesterday. Firemen, police and ambulance crews were called to the Fiber Flex Factory around noon, arriving to find it engulfed by 20-metre flames. A toxic plume of smoke from the fire, which...read more...
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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Feeling weary

Its the end of a long week and I'm knackered! Got in at about 9.15 tonight having had meetings in Dubai late this afternoon, going on into the evening. Two people have commented this week that I look tired - not good. I even had one of my customers who guessed my age as 48! (think I'll have to put his prices up!). I was 42 on Monday - Happy Birthday to me. It was nice to get some cards from home, but special days just don't feel as special out here somehow.

Today I am feeling 48. But next Thursday we fly home for a well deserved break. I am back for 1 week and Caz (who has more holiday days than me) will stay for 2. We are both really looking forward to going home to see everyone. We now also have a long weekend with 3 days off together so that will be nice, although Caz will be sleeping most of tomorrow as she has been working nights this week. Off to the Rugby 7s World Cup in Dubai on Saturday though - my birthday treat!



As this is such a multi-cultural place I have met loads of people from many different nationalities through my work. The phone book on my mobile now looks like the United Nations phone directory! There are also some people with some funny names. I met 2 in particular that I had to stop myself from laughing when they introduced themselves...the first one below was introduced to me by one of my customers, who introduced him as his boss




The second one is self explanatory!












Wednesday, March 4, 2009

More driving madness

Ok, so which idiot shall I start with? ...

Right well it's not too clear from this picture (taken from my mobile while I was driving - who's the idiot Caz will say!) but this guy had managed to get a whole engine of some sort in the boot of his car! See how the car is weighed down on the back axle and probably about to snap in two. Quite a feat in itself though to fit it in! If he wanted a rear engined car he should have bought a Porsche......




This accident held me up on my way home the other day. Not sure what happened but this was in the middle of a traffic light interchange.




Monday, March 2, 2009

And the big news of the day is......


A LuLu store has opened in Mohammed bin Zayed City! OMG, is this what our lives have come to when we get excited about the opening of a supermarket! However, for residents of MbZC/Khalifa/Mussafah this is great news, as we now don't have to treck all the way to Carrefour on Airport road (about an hours round trip for us) or to the LuLu at Al Raha Beach Mall which is pretty small. The Mazyad Mall (where LuLu is) will have a Brioche coffee shop, Applebees and McDonalds (oh bliss beyond compare!). Now when we just fancy a quick take away we won't have to put up with a crap chinese or indian from the Rainbow Grill/Hot Plate in Mussafah - which is pretty disgusting or a trip to Pizza Hut on Mussafah Industrial Area, where the the pizzas are even crapier. We are contemplating moving into the City when our first year's lease is up because living out here is somewhat isolated - however in a very small way our lives have now been uplifited by LuLu's, making at least one aspect of living out here more bearable.